What's your problem

My job has expanded and I now have three bosses to report to rather than one. I have tried to point out that I can only do a limited amount for each boss, but they don't seem to understand the difficulties involved in reporting to three different masters.

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

My initial idea was to get them all together to discuss what each can reasonably expect of me, but they don't get on with one another and have found excuses to miss the meetings. How can I tackle this?

A: Having a boss should be a two-way business. Someone to report to, yes; but also someone whose job is in part to look after you.

I've never felt the need to be absolutely rigid about the first bit: having more than one boss to report to may be a little untidy but it's often fun, and you'll certainly learn more. What's not at all good is what's happening to you: three different bosses, but not one who feels any personal sense of responsibility for you. And since your three bosses don't get on, they'll all be in open competition for your time, which is bound to lead to dissatisfaction all round.

So you must appeal above them or round them - through your HR department, if you have one - and make it clear that, while you don't in the least mind working for two or more people, you must, please, have a single person to whom you can look for guidance and help.


- Jeremy Bullmore has been creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London and a non-executive director of the Guardian Media Group; he is a non-executive director of WPP. Address your problems to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@mtmagazine.co.uk. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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